Hate crime incidents reported to police in the U.S. decreased by more than six percent in 2011, according to data released by the FBI.
There were 6,222 incidents in 2011, down 406 incidents from the 6,628 reported in 2010. Today’s annual numbers are the lowest reported since 1994 and are among the smallest since the FBI began collecting national data pursuant to the Hate Crime Statistics Act in the early 1990s, an article at The Huffington Post reports.
According to the article, a hate crime is a criminal offense motivated in whole or in part by the actual or perceived group status of another, such as race.
Since 2002, reported incidents have generally been in the 6,600-8,000 range, but most of the 14,575 agencies participating in data collection (down from 14,977 agencies the year before) reported zero. Only 13.7 percent of agencies (or 1,944) sent in incidents – five fewer than in 2010, the article notes.
A 2011 victimization study by the Bureau of Justice estimated that there were 148,400 hate crimes nationally in 2009 – most going unreported to police. Overall, crime in general declined last year, with a 3.8 percent decline in violent crime and a half-percent decrease in reported property crime, Huffington Post reports.
The most frequent hate crimes reported were property destruction at 29.3 percent, followed by intimidation (29 percent) and simple assault (22 percent). Hate crimes are fair more likely to be directed at people (64 percent) than crimes overall, but most of those person-direct hate crimes are threats – 45.6 percent being “intimidation” or threatening types of conduct.
In 2011, there were four hate crime homicides. So far, unofficial data by California State University, San Bernardino, shows that in 2012 there have been at least 10 hate crime homicides in the U.S.
Almost half of all hate crime (3,465 or 47.9 percent) was committed on basis of race, 72 percent of which was anti-black and 16.7 percent anti-white, the article says. Twenty point eight percent of hate crime (1,508 incidents) were due to sexual orientation – nearly all anti-gay or –lesbian. Religiously motivated hate crime totaled 1,318 and comprised 19.8 percent of all hate crime (62.2 percent was anti-Jewish; 13.3 percent anti-Muslim; 5.2 percent anti-Catholic). National origin or ethnicity accounted for 11.6 percent of all hate crimes – 56.8 percent of which were directed against Latinos. Less than one percent of all hate crimes were done based on disability, with more than half being directed at the mentally disabled, The Huffington Post reports.
However, the national data is compromised by vastly uneven reporting, particularly in some southern states with large African American populations. Mississippi, which has the largest percentage of African Americans of any state, only reported one hate crime last year, the article says. Georgia only reported 17 incidents, while neighboring state South Carolina (which has a far smaller population of African Americans) reported 135.
Pennsylvania counted only 53 last year, while New York and New Jersey reported more than 500 each, and Ohio had 228. Hawaii does not participate in the national reporting program at all.